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    Political junkie

    Poll worker's 'no' to Iorio means don't call again

    By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published February 23, 2003

    For 30 years, Joyce Lambert, a clerk in Precinct 109, was happy to take phone calls from the Supervisor of Elections office.

    When Elections Supervisor Pam Iorio resigned to run for mayor, Lambert's phone rang again. This time, Iorio's campaign asked whether she would attend an event.

    No, she said. She was supporting Frank Sanchez, the former Clinton White House aide.

    But the calls from Iorio's campaign kept coming.

    Would she post a sign in her yard? Did she want to volunteer?

    "I like Pam all right. I have nothing against her. She was an excellent supervisor," said Lambert, 64. "I just wondered if it was ethical, because to me, it wasn't."

    Lambert doesn't mind helping a candidate, but she doesn't think it's right for Iorio to use the poll worker list as a source for volunteers.

    "If any other candidate got my name from the poll worker list, that would bother me," she said.

    Diana Jones, the poll worker coordinator who keeps the list, said Iorio asked her for a copy sometime after Jan. 1. Iorio told Jones she wanted to write thank-you letters to her employees, Jones said.

    "At the time, she requested it, was she a candidate yet? I can't remember," Jones said. "It was all happening at the same time."

    Iorio, who declared for office Jan. 6, acknowledges using the poll worker list, which is a public record, in her campaign. She said she can't remember when she got the list, only that it was after the November elections. Iorio sent all her poll workers thank-you letters on Nov. 22.

    She said it's proper to seek support from poll workers, who are allowed to participate in politics -- except on Election Day.

    She apologized for her campaign calling Lambert so many times.

    "If that happened, I am sorry it did," Iorio said.

    READ THE SIGNS: Margie Kincaid, leader of the Hillsborough Republican Party, told us she's not taking sides in the mayor's race. Although the race is nonpartisan, no Republicans are running.

    "Of course, we all will vote. But I would have a difficult time endorsing a Democrat," she said.

    Kincaid denied that she had cut a deal with Iorio for her support. "I think that does us both an injustice," she said.

    She said Iorio was a fair, nonpartisan elections supervisor, but she also offered kind words for Sanchez, who served in the Clinton administration.

    Of course, in politics, actions speak louder than words. In front of Kincaid's red brick house in Beach Park sits a yard sign.

    "Pam for Mayor," it says.

    RIVAL POLLS: A day after a St. Petersburg Times poll put Sanchez in third place, his campaign released its own poll showing Sanchez in second place, well ahead of City Council member Bob Buckhorn.

    The Sanchez poll, like the Times poll, had Iorio out in front with 38 percent.

    Political consultant Sergio Bendixen said the Sanchez camp interviewed 400 registered Tampa voters on Thursday and Friday who said they would vote in the March 4 election, could name at least two candidates, and said they had followed the race closely.

    Buckhorn's campaign disputed those findings, saying its own poll had Buckhorn comfortably in second place ahead of Sanchez. Again, Iorio led the pack.

    Said Buckhorn consultant Adam Goodman: "I would say Mr. Sanchez's poll numbers are as good as his ads."

    WASHINGTON TIES: A crowd gathered Wednesday for a "Women for Sanchez" event, but the attraction wasn't the candidate. Women from Brandon, St. Petersburg and Orlando -- who can't vote in the city of Tampa -- came to hear bestselling author Marianne Williamson.

    Sanchez and Williamson became friends in Washington. Williamson endorsed Sanchez for his "goodness as a person."

    Monday night, lawyer Thurgood Marshall Jr., son of the former Supreme Court justice, will endorse Sanchez at an event at Stump's Supper Club. Like Sanchez, Marshall worked in the Clinton administration.

    FOREIGN RELATIONS: This may be an endorsement the candidates don't want.

    A group that wants to expand relations with Cuba, which includes many of the business executives who met Cuban dictator Fidel Castro on a trip with Mayor Dick Greco, have chosen favorites in the mayor's race.

    According to Patrick Manteiga, publisher of La Gaceta, Concerned Citizens for a Brighter Future between Tampa and Cuba likes Iorio and Sanchez.

    Buckhorn and City Council Chairman Charlie Miranda would take Tampa a step back in relations with the communist island, he said.

    STUDENT RATING: Two political science classes at the University of South Florida recently rated the mayoral candidates' styles after watching them debate.

    The results show that younger votes aren't always that much different from their older peers.

    Iorio was rated the most effective candidate, with Sanchez and Buckhorn tied for second.

    "The basics of politics are the same regardless of the generations," said USF professor Susan MacManus.

    -- Got a tip? Call Times staff writer David Karp at 226-3376 or karp@sptimes.com.

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